Spiceworks Spices Up Social IT Management Software

IT software maker Spiceworks is launching version 4.0 of their desktop software suite that helps a company’s IT staff collaborate with each other and manage “everything IT.” The IT management software, which is free and ad-supported, is currently being used by 700,000 IT professionals at small to medium businesses to inventory, monitor, troubleshoot, report on and run a help desk for their IT networks. The company says the upgrade will be rolled out later this week.

The interesting part of Spicework’s software is that it includes a social network for IT pros that they use to help each other out. Its product roadmap is visible to all members, who can vote on which features they want to see next. The top feature, which will be in the new release, is a network map, visually showing every computer and network device on a company’s IT network, along with their relationships and bandwidth consumption. Spiceworks will be integrated with Twitter as well, allowing activity updates to be published to Twitter.

IT pros at small and mid-sized companies can band together in buying clubs. And allows users to see how other IT pros have prioritized and managed various Windows Events. Users can now view Windows event background pages and read community group discussions on how to best troubleshoot and resolve related problems. Spiceworks calls this crowdsourced troubleshooting.

The new version also offers plug-ins to manage apps from vendors including Microsoft, LiveOffice, Intel and Trend Micro. For example, the LiveOffice Mail Archive Widget will let IT staff archive email accounts from within Spiceworks from the dashboard itself. The Microsoft License Organizer allows users to automatically track Microsoft licenses and to order additional licenses when needed. Spiceworks charges companies like Microsoft and Intel to add these features.

Spiceworks has ramped up its virtual help desk feature, letting users now control a help desk from a mobile phone. Users can create new tickets, edit & update existing tickets, and delete tickets remotely.

Spiceworks recently added a host of plug-ins and social media widgets, letting users keep track track of alerts, tickets, new software, and new hardware, as well as inventory summaries. Spiceworks also lets users add themes and skins to the desktop, create customized user portals, and lets users drop in news widgets from RSS feeds and social networking widgets for Digg, Facebook, and MySpace